Presentation of Rothstein Shanghai story at Columbia University

Ann Segan recently presented a brief, illustrated lecture about her father Arthur Rothstein's 1946 photo essay of the Jewish Refugee community in WW II-era Shanghai at the Columbia University Butler Library. The occasion was a screening of the compelling, new and award-winning documentary film--Above the Drowning Sea--that captures the dramatic story of Jewish escape to the refuge of China, through archival footage, historical photographs, and interviews with Jewish survivors and their descendants. The film-makers, including René Balcer, the Emmy Award-winning head writer and showrunner of the iconic television series Law and Order, also gives voice to Chinese residents of Shanghai who lived with the Jewish European refugees in the intimate confines of the war-torn city. The film offers this experience of cross-cultural acceptance as a lesson for people and nations grappling with present-day refugee crises. 

After the screening, and a Q&A with Co-Writer/Director and Executive Producer René Balcer, and the film's Co-Executive Producer Carolyn Hsu-Balcer, Ann Segan briefly presented the story behind her father's presence in Shanghai--as chief photographer for a United Nations relief agency--and his intimate photographs of the refugee community, several of which were featured in the film.  For details about the film, including upcoming screenings, visit the website here:

René Balcer and Ann Segan

René Balcer and Ann Segan

Presentation to NYC STEM Students

In July 2017, Dr. Ann Segan discussed the value of visual storytelling with students studying Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) at the Bronx Engineering Technology Academy (BETA) High School. She was invited by Susanne Cappendijk, director of the non-profit EDsnaps program designed to support young women pursuing careers in these challenging fields.

Students analyze photographs

Students analyze photographs


AN EXHIBITION AND LECTURE AT THE JEWISH CULTURAL CENTER IN LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA: STRANDED IN SHANGHAI: The Hongkew Ghetto through the Lens of Arthur Rothstein opened at the Festival of Tolerance at the Jewish Cultural Center in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The exhibition is on display through November 15, 2017. The photographer's daughter, Annie Rothstein-Segan gave a lecture on March 28th. To see local news coverage of the event, please click on the following link

An exhibition at the Custom House Museum in Key West, Florida ASSIGNMENT: KEY WEST 1938 July 17-November 10, 2015.

When 22-year-old Arthur Rothstein traveled to Key West in January of 1938 he was already a seasoned documentary photographer. He had learned to efficiently document the life of a community during two and a half years of intensive field work, traversing the United State on behalf of Farm Security Administration (FSA). The FSA was a New Deal federal agency created to aid farmers displaced by drought or struggling to survive the Great Depression.

The 1930s was an era without television news. Roy Stryker, Rothstein’s boss at the FSA, thought that photographs—distributed widely in newspapers and magazines—would provide a window into the plight of displaced agricultural and industrial workers, thereby demonstrating the need for government assistance and documenting successful programs.

Stryker insisted that his photographers research each assignment. Arthur Rothstein would have arrived in Key West understanding the devastating loss of rail service after the 1935 hurricane and the distressed state of local cigar and sponge industries, as well as the impending completion of the Overseas Highway and nascent efforts by the Federal government to promote the Keys as a tourist destination.

Rothstein also understood that the new highway would revitalize Key West. He wrote to Roy Stryker at the time of his visit, “I hope the resulting boom and development doesn’t spoil the picturesque beauty of the island nor make the natives lose their friendliness.”

The Key West Art and Historical Society’s Custom House Museum is an ideal location to celebrate the centenary of Arthur Rothstein’s birth in 1915 with “…Assignment 1938.” The exhibition exemplifies his ability to visit a place and assemble a technically refined and representative picture story. This Key West assignment—like so many others throughout his long career—allows us to travel back with him to experience the light and shadow of a time now passed.

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